Louisiana tourism office tops; Landrieu signs gun ordinance; LABI; Insurance fraud event
Written by  // Monday, 12 September 2016 12:27 // News//
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Louisiana business and organization news for today:

louisiana capital 3Louisiana Office of Tourism gets tops; Mitch Landrieu signs gun safety law; LABI and rebirth fund; Insurance fraud event

Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser today announced the Louisiana Office of Tourism (LOT) was named the 2016 State Tourism Office of the Year by the Southeast Tourism Society during its Shining Example Awards in Birmingham, AL. LOT was recognized for its fourth consecutive record-breaking year in tourism. In 2015, Louisiana welcomed 28.9 million visitors to the state who spent $11.5 billion, generating $843 million in state tax revenue.

(From press releases)

“Tourism is the best investment our state can make as we see a return of $38 for every $1 invested,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “Through the maximization of our resources, we have been able to develop new markets, set industry benchmarks in social media, and create the largest international travel trade mission in Louisiana’s history with nearly 30 delegates hosting functions in Toronto and Vancouver, Canada.”

“Our success is directly connected to the dedication of our staff and tourism leaders around the state, committed to developing partnership opportunities and innovative marketing to showcase Louisiana as a place to Pick Your Passion,” said Kyle Edmiston, Assistant Secretary for the Louisiana Office of Tourism. “It truly is an honor to have your hard work recognized by your peers.”

Louisiana’s tourism campaign highlights include:

Creation of Team Louisiana: In partnership with the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association (LTPA), the Louisiana Office of Tourism created and maintains a website to serve as an information hub for sports organizations seeking tournament venues in Louisiana.
National Tourism Week: Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser traversed the state on a media tour garnering attention to showcase Louisiana’s tourism industry as an essential economic engine for the state.
Louisiana Lone Star Restaurant Night: Nine prominent Louisiana chefs took their culinary skills to Austin, TX, to feature Louisiana’s distinct flavors and cuisine.
Go.See.Eat: A series of short videos were created to feature a place to go, something to see or do there, and somewhere to experience the best Louisiana cuisine. In three month, the videos garnered more than 83,000 views, representing more than 330 hours of promotion.
Lt. Governor’s Sales Mission to Toronto and Vancouver, Canada: The largest international trade mission in Louisiana history, the Lt. Governor was joined by nearly 30 delegates from around the state to conduct a media tour and trade shows for our neighbor to the north. The events were attended by 75 media and travel guests along with more than 160 travel agents.
This marks the second time LOT has been named the State Tourism Office of the Year by the Southeast Tourism Society, winning the award in 2013. Recently, LOT was honored with three Mercury Awards – Best Travel Website, Best Social Media Campaign, and Judges’ Choice for Best Overall Campaign – by the National Council of State Tourism Directors and the U.S. Travel Association. In 2015, LOT took home the Mercury Award for its print advertising campaign. Additionally, Louisiana was only the second state to achieve accreditation through DMAI’s Destination Marketing Accreditation Program.

The Southeast Tourism Society (STS), started in 1983 to create a marketing alliance between states, has established itself as a leader among travel organizations. The STS is comprised of 12 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.


Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed an ordinance into law aimed at promoting gun safety in New Orleans. Led by City Councilmembers Jason Williams and James Gray, the New Orleans City Council unanimously passed the Gun Safety Ordinance yesterday. The Gun Safety Ordinance makes new requirements for reporting a lost or stolen gun, makes all NORDC facilities “firearm-free zones” and criminalizes the negligent carrying of a concealed firearm.

“Public safety is our top priority, and in order to keep our citizens safe, we must do everything we can to promote gun safety and reduce gun violence on our streets and in our community,” said Mayor Landrieu. “When criminals are intent on doing harm, too many innocent people are caught in the crossfire. We have a moral obligation to do everything in our power to fight back and halt the stream of guns getting in the wrong hands and increasing the penalties when they are used negligently. By signing the Gun Safety Ordinance into law, we are giving NOPD more tools to stem the tide of gun violence in New Orleans. I want to thank the New Orleans City Council, especially Councilmembers Williams and Gray, for your leadership in helping craft this ordinance. I look forward to continuing to work with all of our partners, including law enforcement officials, neighborhood leaders and our residents as we make New Orleans a city of peace.”

Councilmember-At-Large Jason Williams said, "At the commencement of today's council meeting I received information that there was an active shooter at a high school in Texas. Few details were clear early on, but what is clear is that these incidents are occurring far too frequently in this country. As a public servant I am not willing to simply sit back and rely on old methods to address our gun violence crisis. This ordinance takes very reasonable measures and steps to keep guns away from young people and out of the hands of criminals. This ordinance will do nothing to limit a law abiding citizen's right to own a gun. It is singularly focused on gun safety and gun responsibility."

District E Councilmember James A. Gray II said “Our gun legislation is meant to send a message. We will do everything in our power to reduce the number of our children that are killed every year in New Orleans. We simply will not tolerate it. I grew up with guns, my father taught me how to shoot and how to be responsible. I was a Marine in combat in Vietnam. An M16 and an AK47 are not hunting rifles. A Glock 19 with a 33-bullet magazine was not made to shoot deer. These guns were made to kill people. If you’re going to own a gun, you have to be responsible and make sure that your lost or stolen gun isn’t used to hurt anyone."

District A Councilmember Susan Guidry said, “"I am proud to have been joined by my colleagues in unanimously passing the Gun Safety Ordinance. Responsible gun ownership includes taking steps to secure your firearm and contacting the proper authorities if it is lost or stolen. Criminals cannot be prosecuted for possession of a stolen firearm if the firearm is not reported stolen in the first place.”

District C Councilmember Nadine Ramsey said, “It is important to do all that we can to reduce gun violence. This involves reducing the number of guns on the street and fostering responsible ownership for those who choose to own guns. I’m happy to support this effort which I believe will make our City safer.”


The Louisiana Small Business Rebirth Fund announced $350,000 in grants to 57 small businesses impacted by the August flooding across South Louisiana. Within the first week, the grant program received more than 600 applications, exhausting funding and underscoring the tremendous need among small businesses, as well as the magnitude of the flood’s impact and the insufficient resources available to rebuild.

“The grant funds will help pay for the reconstruction of the building, which will allow the practice to provide the critical service of medical eye care to our community,” said Kevin Rogers, owner of Central Eye Center in Greenwell Springs, a grant award recipient.

Some grant recipients specified that they would use the funding to pay employees who helped with clean-up and recovery efforts. The vast majority of recipients expressed intentions to reopen in their current locations, after critical repairs are made to their facilities and equipment is replaced. Only a fraction of the grant recipients reported that they had flood insurance coverage. Roughly half of the businesses are owned by minorities, women or veterans and, on average, the number of employees of small businesses awarded grants is fewer than 10.

“We are glad to be of help, but, frankly, current federal and state resources are falling far short of the needs of small businesses. We have pledged to Rebirth Fund applicants that we will continue to aggressively advocate on their behalf for additional financial support to rebuild better and stronger,” said Stephen Waguespack, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI). “Every application had merit and the independent review committee had to make some tough choices about how best to utilize the available funds. There are many other deserving applications which is why the need for additional donations is so critical.”

First-round grants were made to small businesses in Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Iberia, Lafayette, Livingston and Pointe Coupee Parishes, representing industries including daycare, restaurants/food service, grocery stores, contractors and health care facilities, including physicians’ offices.

Donations to the Rebirth Fund from large and small businesses as well as individuals around the country made possible the first round of grants. Donations are tax deductible and 100 percent is awarded directly to affected small businesses. Hundreds more applications have been submitted and will be reviewed, pending additional donations to the Rebirth Fund.

“It’s so important that we’re able to raise additional donations so that we can continue awarding grants to those who were impacted so profoundly,” said Adam Knapp, president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. “The volume of applications we continue to receive makes clear the tremendous unmet needs of small businesses.”

Those interested in contributing to the Louisiana Small Business Rebirth Fund are encouraged to visit www.LaBizRebirth.org.

An independent committee with technical, accounting and legal expertise reviewed the applications to prioritize grants to affected businesses.

Announced last month, the Louisiana Small Business Rebirth Fund was created to provide need-based triage grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 to help small businesses recover.

Eligible small businesses must have been located within one of the 22 parishes included in the federal disaster declaration area, have 50 or fewer employees, and have been in business on August 10, 2016.

Last month, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) announced the creation of the Louisiana Small Business Rebirth Fund, representing partnership with Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.), the Louisiana chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the Louisiana Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (LACCE) and One Acadiana. NOLA Media Group pledged $100,000 in seed funding to initiate corporate donations. Since then, dozens of companies, individuals, and business organizations have contributed to the Fund.

Information is available at www.LaBizRebirth.org.


Insurance agents and adjusters have the opportunity to learn about crimes impacting the insurance industry while receiving continuing education credits at the upcoming 2016 Conference on Insurance Fraud and Auto Theft. Online registration is now available for the October 12 conference sponsored by the Louisiana Department of Insurance and the Louisiana Automobile Theft and Insurance Fraud Prevention Authority (LATIFPA).

“From the high-tech detection of fraud to the prosecution and conviction of offenders, we are fortunate to have some of the leading professionals in the field of fraud prevention joining us to share their expertise,” said Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon. “As we work to recover from one of the most significant flood events in our nation’s history, we will also take a closer look at detection of disaster fraud.”

Producers and Adjusters can earn up to six hours of continuing education credits at the conference which will be held at the Crowne Plaza Baton Rouge Hotel on Wednesday, October 12. An agenda and registration information is available at www.ldi.la.gov/fraudconference.

The LATIFPA is a public agency housed within the LDI’s Division of Insurance Fraud that works to combat motor vehicle theft and insurance fraud. The authority partners with law enforcement agencies, schools and community partners to provide education and prevention strategies to the public.

Corporations wanting to renew their Industrial Tax Exemptions later this morning fell radically short, during the first term of their exemptions, of the job growth they claimed they would achieve when they applied for the controversial public subsidies.

Instead of creating 291 jobs as their applications said they would, the 22 companies applying for renewals cut 533 jobs from their operations during the time frame they were receiving ITEP subsidies.

The State Commerce and Industry Board will meet later today to consider those exemptions, despite not moving during the last two and a half months to implement Governor John Bel Edwards' executive order, which was "effective immediately" and required local approval of exemptions before any further approval.

Faith and community leaders with Together Louisiana will hold a press conference Monday, September 12th, at 9:30am, in front of the location where the board will meet at 10am -- the LaSalle Building at 617 N. 3rd St., Baton Rouge, LA 70802.

Together Louisiana's message is to ask the board to oppose approving further industrial tax exemptions until Governor John Bel Edwards' executive order is implemented.

If you are able to attend, please click here to RSVP.

The full analysis of the current ITEP applications is attached and is also available for download here.

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